(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
The UAE and Georgia on Wednesday concluded first round of talks to finalise a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
The three-day talks, which initiated on Monday, discussed ways to stimulate trade, investment and economic cooperation between the two nations in line with the UAE's foreign trade agenda launched in September 2021.
“As part of the strategy to double the size of the national economy and push GDP beyond Dh3 trillion by 2030, the UAE continues to explore economic partnerships with markets of regional and global importance,' Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said.
He said Georgia is a dynamic, free-market economy in the heart of the emerging Caucus region, and our relationships has seen real momentum in recent years. These negotiations present a welcome opportunity to open an exciting new chapter and deliver long-term growth, he said.
“Our economies have clear synergies and complementarities, and the talks will outline areas of opportunity in sectors such as agriculture, artificial intelligence, tourism, transportation, energy, and others. We will also work to create platform for SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs to scale and expand internationally. We are both entering these negotiations with a clear commitment to create opportunity, build on common interests and champion the private sector in both countries,” the minister said.
Jumaa Muhammad Al Kait, assistant undersecretary for international trade affairs at the Ministry of Economy, heads the UAE negotiation team in this tour, including representatives from all concerned authorities in the country.
The UAE and Georgia have been enjoying increasing trade and investment flows in recent years. In first half of 2022, bilateral non-oil trade reached $166 million, a 104 per cent increase on the same period in 2021, a 118 per cent increase on 2020 and an 85 per cent rise compared to 2019.
Across the whole of 2021, bilateral non-oil foreign trade totalled $223 million, a 52 per cent increase on 2020, and 11 per cent more than pre-Covid 2019 — with the UAE now accounting for 63 percent of Georgia's trade with the Arab world.
Mutual direct investment exceeded $1 billion by the end of 2021, with UAE investments into Georgia currently representing five per cent of all FDI into the country, the sixth largest source of foreign direct investment.
The Cepa negotiations will explore removing or reducing tariffs and improving market access, which will help accelerate the flow of Georgia's principal exports, including cars, gold and semiconductor devices and provide opportunities for the UAE's services sector, in particular logistics, education, ICT, finance and fintech. There are also opportunities to cooperate on food security and agriculture, advanced technology, hospitality, tourism, real estate and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The UAE has already concluded three Cepas this year, including landmark deals with India, Israel and Indonesia. Negotiations for further Cepas are also underway with Turkey.
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